SEO or Paid Search & Social Advertising?

SEO or SEM Strategy

This question comes up quite often when we are discussing web marketing strategies with prospective clients and customers. A lot of people want to know whether it is better to invest in paid advertising (also known as pay-per-click or pay-per-impression advertising) or in organic search engine optimization (SEO) where your website is naturally optimized for search engine rank over time.

In actuality, it is not a matter of selecting one versus the other, rather, it is a matter of using both. For a lot of businesses, one of the best ways to get maximum exposure on the Internet is to use both paid advertising and organic search engine optimization together, as in concurrently.

This question comes up quite often when we are discussing web marketing strategies with prospective clients and customers. A lot of people want to know whether it is better to invest in paid advertising (also known as pay-per-click or pay-per-impression advertising) or in organic search engine optimization (SEO) where your website is naturally optimized for search engine rank over time.

In actuality, it is not a matter of selecting one versus the other, rather, it is a matter of using both. For a lot of businesses, one of the best ways to get maximum exposure on the Internet is to use both paid advertising and organic search engine optimization together, as in concurrently.

This immediately begs the question: why?

Paid Search Advertising

Let us look at paid search advertising first. Paid search advertising (I prefer to call is “advertising” rather than marketing) is the process of driving more traffic to your website by buying ads (paid listings) on search engines.

In a simplified manner, with paid search advertising, you select a bunch of keywords (from tens to tens of thousands), establish an advertising budget, set a cost-per-click or a cost-per-impression and hit start. Whenever someone searches for the listed keywords, in theory, your website should show up in the search results for people to click on. Of course, this depends on a lot of factors.

Paid search advertising does have several immediate advantages. Here are a few:

  • You can get started quickly
  • You have full control over the budget
  • You have some control on the cost per click or cost per impression
  • You can schedule your ads on most search engines and social networks
  • You can target hundreds to tens of thousands of search terms
  • You can analyze and track your spending and tweak for best results

Paid search advertising is designed to drive new traffic to your website fairly quickly, make sure to check out a digital marketing agency on  this website here can find professionals Digital Marketing experts. And you can target hundreds to tens of thousands of search terms, which is something that is not possible with organic search engine optimization. Paid search marketing is available on Google and Yahoo/Bing and other search engines as well as some second tier systems, such as 7Search.

This is what paid results look like on the top 3 search engines. We searched for the term “auto loan”.

Paid Social Advertising

Just so you know, paid advertising is also available on the social networks. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Pinterest have their own versions of paid advertising. Again, in a simplified sense, you

This is what paid advertising looks like on Facebook:

Screenshot from FB & others

An additional benefit of paid advertising campaigns, especially on search engines help you fine-tune your keyword selections for SEO. By measuring clicks, traffic stats, click through rates and conversions, you can made objective decisions about what keywords to use in organic optimization.

A word of caution about Paid search advertising

If you are uncertain, or unsure about how to set up your paid search marketing campaigns, you probably want to consider consulting an expert as there are lots of settings & options that need be tweaked and adjusted to deliver best performance.

If you are not diligent in your settings, paid search marketing campaigns can cause you to burn through serious amounts of cash fairly quickly. So be careful!

Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the perhaps one of the most important parts of your online (web/internet/digital) marketing strategy. With properly managed SEO, search terms relevant to your business start to naturally appear higher on search engine results, leading to increased traffic. Assuming that your website is properly constructed and structured and has meaningful and relevant content, this can generate more leads and in turn, improve your bottom line. On top of that, natural or organic search engine rank leads to increased credibility, authority and relevance in the mind of the customers.

Side note: the number of leads that convert to paying customers depends on the overall experience a visitor has on your website. Just getting increased traffic to your website does not automatically guarantee more leads, more conversions and more sales.

Here is a look at organic results from Google & Bing for the term “auto loan”.

SEO does not happen overnight. Building “credibility” in the “eyes” of search engines is something that takes dedicated and consistent effort and should be done slowly and methodically. Search engine algorithms (the magical code-behind-the-scenes-that-determines-rank) are a well–kept secret and are constantly being updated: Google alone releases over 500 updates annually. Also, note that Search engine rank can and does change regularly, sometimes drastically, so you will need to keep a sharp eye on such updates. If in doubt, hire an SEO agency to manage your search engine optimization.

Combined Strategy

With organic SEO, you generally focus on your most important keywords that are expected to send you the most amount of traffic. It is well worth using paid search advertising to supplement your online marketing efforts. In fact, if you are operating under a limited budget, it may be worth adjusting your spending so that you can allocate money to both SEO and paid advertising.

Start with a large number of keywords on search advertising. Make sure you also use your top organic keywords here as well. Select a subset of these keywords on social networks to potentially create even more visibility.

A combined paid advertising and organic optimization strategy will get you to stand out even more. Here is a screenshot of search results showing both paid and natural search results for the same website for the search term “online presentations”.

Note that prezi.com appears at the top of the page at #1 in the paid listings and also appears at #2 in the organic results. Let’s think about this for a second. If a prospective customer were top see the same company twice on the same page, and that too “above the fold” (where content is visible without scrolling) do you think that person is more likely to click to view that website?

For a new website we recommended starting with tightly structured and controlled paid search and social advertising campaigns along with a tightly focused organic search engine optimization campaign to best results.

For established websites, we

Caution

Avoid working with a company that guarantees #1 rank on any search engine, or guarantees results that appear just too good to be true. Use your best judgment before making a decision; make sure the agency you select is competent and make sure you ask to see results of their work – a solid portfolio of organic SEO projects with high rank for customer websites is a one of the indicator of success. You can also see traffic stats, conversion metrics and other such data.

What has worked better for you? SEO? Paid search and social advertising? Or Both?

Click here to add your own text

Click here to add your own text

Click here to add your own text

Paid Search Advertising

Let us look at paid search advertising first. Paid search advertising (I prefer to call is “advertising” rather than marketing) is the process of driving more traffic to your website by buying ads (paid listings) on search engines.

In a simplified manner, with paid search advertising, you select a bunch of keywords (from tens to tens of thousands), establish an advertising budget, set a cost-per-click or a cost-per-impression and hit start. Whenever someone searches for the listed keywords, in theory, your website should show up in the search results for people to click on. Of course, this depends on a lot of factors.

Paid search advertising does have several immediate advantages. Here are a few:

  • You can get started quickly
  • You have full control over the budget
  • You have some control on the cost per click or cost per impression
  • You can schedule your ads on most search engines and social networks
  • You can target hundreds to tens of thousands of search terms
  • You can analyze and track your spending and tweak for best results

Paid search advertising is designed to drive new traffic to your website fairly quickly. And you can target hundreds to tens of thousands of search terms, which is something that is not possible with organic search engine optimization. Paid search marketing is available on Google and Yahoo/Bing and other search engines as well as some second tier systems, such as 7Search.

This is what paid results look like on the top 3 search engines. We searched for the term “auto loan”.

Screenshot from Google

Screenshot from Bing

Paid Social Advertising

Just so you know, paid advertising is also available on the social networks. Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter & Pinterest have their own versions of paid advertising. Again, in a simplified sense, you

This is what paid advertising looks like on Facebook:

Screenshot from FB & others

An additional benefit of paid advertising campaigns, especially on search engines help you fine-tune your keyword selections for SEO. By measuring clicks, traffic stats, click through rates and conversions, you can made objective decisions about what keywords to use in organic optimization.

A word of caution about Paid search advertising

If you are uncertain, or unsure about how to set up your paid search marketing campaigns, you probably want to consider consulting an expert as there are lots of settings & options that need be tweaked and adjusted to deliver best performance.

If you are not diligent in your settings, paid search marketing campaigns can cause you to burn through serious amounts of cash fairly quickly. So be careful!

Organic Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO is the perhaps one of the most important parts of your online (web/internet/digital) marketing strategy. With properly managed SEO, search terms relevant to your business start to naturally appear higher on search engine results, leading to increased traffic. Assuming that your website is properly constructed and structured and has meaningful and relevant content, this can generate more leads and in turn, improve your bottom line. On top of that, natural or organic search engine rank leads to increased credibility, authority and relevance in the mind of the customers.

Side note: the number of leads that convert to paying customers depends on the overall experience a visitor has on your website. Just getting increased traffic to your website does not automatically guarantee more leads, more conversions and more sales.

Here is a look at organic results from Google & Bing for the term “auto loan”.

SEO does not happen overnight. Building “credibility” in the “eyes” of search engines is something that takes dedicated and consistent effort and should be done slowly and methodically. Search engine algorithms (the magical code-behind-the-scenes-that-determines-rank) are a well–kept secret and are constantly being updated: Google alone releases over 500 updates annually. Also, note that Search engine rank can and does change regularly, sometimes drastically, so you will need to keep a sharp eye on such updates. If in doubt, hire an SEO agency to manage your search engine optimization.

Combined Strategy

With organic SEO, you generally focus on your most important keywords that are expected to send you the most amount of traffic. It is well worth using paid search advertising to supplement your online marketing efforts. In fact, if you are operating under a limited budget, it may be worth adjusting your spending so that you can allocate money to both SEO and paid advertising.

Start with a large number of keywords on search advertising. Make sure you also use your top organic keywords here as well. Select a subset of these keywords on social networks to potentially create even more visibility.

A combined paid advertising and organic optimization strategy will get you to stand out even more. Here is a screenshot of search results showing both paid and natural search results for the same website for the search term “online presentations”.

Note that prezi.com appears at the top of the page at #1 in the paid listings and also appears at #2 in the organic results. Let’s think about this for a second. If a prospective customer were top see the same company twice on the same page, and that too “above the fold” (where content is visible without scrolling) do you think that person is more likely to click to view that website?

For a new website we recommended starting with tightly structured and controlled paid search and social advertising campaigns along with a tightly focused organic search engine optimization campaign to best results.

For established websites, we

Caution

Avoid working with a company that guarantees #1 rank on any search engine, or guarantees results that appear just too good to be true. Use your best judgment before making a decision; make sure the agency you select is competent and make sure you ask to see results of their work – a solid portfolio of organic SEO projects with high rank for customer websites is a one of the indicator of success. You can also see traffic stats, conversion metrics and other such data.

What has worked better for you? SEO? Paid search and social advertising? Or Both?